CSR: When Giving Something Away Makes You Stronger

Developing A Corporate Social Responsibility Culture

On paper, it doesn’t make sense, right? How can giving something away make you stronger?

Yet, when a company commits to giving away employee volunteer time or donations, the culture becomes stronger and employees are more engaged.

The fancy-pants name for volunteering and giving programs is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Fortune 500 companies have a long and storied CSR tradition of giving back to the communities where their employees live and work. But now, even small and medium businesses (SMBs) are getting into the action because they see the value in supporting the causes their employees care about.

Prove it

CSR programs have proven to attract and retain quality employees. Engaged employees have a positive impact on the bottom line. I am sure there are folks on your executive team who love data and research, and will want you to prove that committing time and resources to an employee CSR program will have a positive impact on both your culture and your bottom line.If you are trying to attract and retain millennials, use this stat with your HR team:

If you are a fast growth company, use these stats with your Board of Directors:

  • Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-2011 experienced 147% higher earnings per share (EPS) compared with their competition in 2011-2012. (Gallup, State of American Workplace 2012)
  • Companies in the top quartile of engagement were 22% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. (Gallup, State of American Workplace 2012)

What does an employee CSR program look like?

The beauty of a CSR program, is that there is no one size that fits all. It’s an opportunity to develop a program that reflects and nurtures your current culture. Below are some of the most common components of an employee CSR program. The list may look daunting, but don’t feel like you need to roll out all components at once in order to make a positive impact on your culture. You can pick and choose elements, start small, or even roll elements out in a phased approach.

  • Team Volunteering Events: These events are a great mechanism for doing good in your community while strengthening relationships within your organization. It’s an opportunity for senior executives and new hires to roll up their sleeves and work side by side for a cause. Whether it’s a team event open to all employees or for one specific team, these events build relationships and collegiately across the organization. You can even invite clients and prospects to these events as a way to build stronger relationships and connections. Events can be held during the work day or in the evenings and weekends. Many companies often cap off a team volunteering event with a social outing or meal together.
  • Individual Volunteering: This is a true opportunity for your company to support your employees’ passions. Many companies offer Volunteer Time Off so that their employees can take an hour, 4 hours, or a day to volunteer at a non-profit they care about. By using your HR management system, or a system like YourCause’s CSRconnect platform, it’s easy to track these VTO hours. A word to the wise: developing clear guidelines on what is eligible for VTO and what type of pre-approval is necessary are key components to a successful program.
  • Matching Gifts: When an employee makes a donation to a charity, your company can provide a matching donation. This doubles the impact and clearly makes your employees feel supported and connected to your company.
  • Collection Drives: Coming together to make a direct impact on a community need is a tremendous opportunity to build team spirit and engagement. Whether it’s backpacks and school supplies in early August, or gently used coats in the winter, collecting and delivering these items can really pull an organization together. Caveat: use drives and collections sparingly. Frequent collections can tap out employees bank accounts and spirit of generosity.

Tell Your Impact Story

As you launch and grow your employee CSR program, make sure to collect the facts, figures, and stories about the impact your program is making. Through quick post-volunteer event surveys, requesting photos and videos from employees, and conversations with the nonprofits you are supporting you can develop the impact stories your program is having on your employees, your company, and on your community. Share these stories with candidates and new hires. Help your senior leaders know and recognize the good work and passions of your program participants by sharing frequent impact stories with executives. Your clients (and prospects) will also be excited to learn about the impact your programs are making on the community and your organization. It is through the sharing of these stories that your culture of engagement will grow and thrive.

Getting Started and Next Steps

By giving your employees the opportunity to get involved and give back to the causes they care about, your company and culture will without a doubt become stronger. In future posts, the YourCause team will lay out the tactical steps to creating a vibrant employee CSR program for your company.


This is a guest post by YourCause, LLC.

YourCause, LLC is a Dallas, TX based Software as a Service (“SaaS”) provider of the CSRconnect Employee Engagement Platform (“CSRconnect”) and the Orange Leap Donor Management Platform, two fully hosted and managed solutions for employees and non-profits to more effectively deploy and manage their philanthropic, volunteering, sustainability, employee engagement, and overall donor relations programs.

To learn more about CSRconnect, please visit the YourCause website.